Each year, a National Forest provides a Christmas Tree for display on the U.S. Capitol lawn in Washington D.C. This year’s tree is travelling from the Willamette National Forest’s Sweet Home Ranger District, in the western Cascade mountain range. District Ranger Nikki Swanson is recording her notes from the journey for the Your Northwest Forests blog.
To read previous entries, visit https://yournorthwestforests.org/category/capitol-christmas-tree/.
Track the tree! Follow the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree on its Return to the Oregon Trail journey in near real-time, at www.trackthetree.com.
November 23rd, 2018
St. Louis, Mo.
We left the “gateway to the west” and headed due east 321 miles to Harrison, Ohio today. Its amazing how far away Oregon seems, both in space and time.
The people of Harrison were amazed we had traveled so far, and seemed happy we chose to stop in their little town. We pulled into town to the cheers of over 3,000 people!
Harrison has a beautiful, nostalgic, historic downtown, and that’s where we conducted our last Capitol Christmas tree “whistle stop” event before the tree-lighting.
It was quite a scene! A men’s a cappella group sang as the tree rolled into town, accompanied by the clapping of the crowd. As soon as the tree stopped, several thousand people converged to sign the banners and to take pictures.
I’m afraid I may have to adjust my view when I return to the real world. Throughout this trip people have offered us free coffee, food, and snacks.
The people of Harrison treated our entire team with our own tray of cookies from their amazing local bakery. So yummy!
People are so kind. You wouldn’t necessarily know it with what you see on the TV or in print, but it’s true; there is still a lot of kindness in the world. I feel so blessed to have seen it for myself.
After dinner, our group went on an impromptu tour with a local historian to see the city’s underground tunnel.
President William Henry Harrison, who is buried nearby, was one of the proponents for the tunnel. He even sold his land to help pay for the tunnel’s construction. The tunnel was built from wood and brick, made from rock mined just outside the city. It was originally built to move water as part of the Whitewater Canal system, but has been has been used for many things throughout the years.
Several people I talked to at the event said they were very happy to have the tree in their town.
They had many reasons.
Some people came to see their first noble fir tree, some came to sign the banner and add their name to the tens of thousands on our giant rolling “Christmas card,” others came to see some of the 10,000 hand-crafted ornaments Oregonians made to decorate the 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree (and other trees in side the U.S. Capitol building).
Some said they came to see it because just could not miss this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Some came for the events offered for their children, like ice skating on plastic composite “ice,” and making ornaments for their tree at home.
And then there were those who came specifically to see the truck!
The Kenworth W990 is fresh off the show room floor, and wrapped in a special 2018 Capitol Christmas Tree design. Delivering the tree to the U.S. Capitol is its maiden voyage. Presence, power and personal style wrapped in a world class design that redefines the long hood conventional truck cab, with plenty of room for snacks, like our very large box of cheese-its!
What a show-stopper!
What a wonderful way to finish our tour! Tomorrow we have a quick stop, and then we are on to Maryland for the night and to deliver the tree to Joint Base Andrews. On Monday, we’ll deliver the tree to the U.S. Capitol!
PS: Even though the “whistle stops” are over, I will continue to blog until the tree is lit on December 5th.
District Ranger, Sweet Home Ranger District
Willamette National Forest